California Sun

Good morning. It's Wednesday, Aug. 18.

More destruction as wildfires spread through the Sierra.
The rise of the Delta variant in California decelerates.
And Rep. Barbara Lee's lonely stand against the Afghan war.



Gov. Gavin Newsom met with Latino leaders at Hecho en Mexico restaurant in Los Angeles on Saturday.

Genaro Molina/L.A. Times via Getty Images

Gov. Gavin Newsom's fate in the recall election could depend on California's Latinos, a group that moved away from Democrats in the 2020 election. Polls have shown that up to 54% of the state's Latinos want Newsom out. The columnist Gustavo Arellano: "You’ve got to give people a reason to love you. And Newsom is about as loved by many Latinos as a stale Mexican Coke.” L.A. Times


On Sept. 14, California voters will face two questions: Should Newsom be removed from office? And if so, which of his 46 challengers should replace him? A majority vote decides the first question. But the second is decided by a plurality. Crucially, Newsom is not among the choices. That means he could be replaced by a candidate whose vote haul is a fraction of the number who opposed the recall. "This is not just nonsensical and undemocratic," wrote two Berkeley law professors. "It is unconstitutional." N.Y. Times

Two voters filed a federal lawsuit that cites this precise scenario, arguing that the recall violates the Constitution's equal protection clause. Politico


Almond trees were left to go dry at a farm in Gustine on June 14.

David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The celebrated Fresno journalist Mark Arax wrote about the crippled aquifers of the San Joaquin Valley through the story of a well fixer named Matt Angell.

“I’m 62 years old," Angell said. "I’ve been doing this more than half my life, and I’ve never seen this. Not even close. This is all brand new, and it’s shaken everything I believe in.” The Atlantic


The rise of the Delta variant in California is now decelerating, an analysis found. While it's too soon to be certain if the surge is peaking, health experts are increasingly optimistic. In early July, there was a week-over-week increase in daily coronavirus cases of 86%. Earlier this month, it was 30%. Now the increase is about 7%, with roughly 11,800 new cases a day. L.A. Times


Northern California


Scorched vehicles in Grizzly Flats on Tuesday.

Ethan Swope/A.P.

With winds picking up, roughly a dozen major wildfires tore across Northern California on Tuesday, forcing new evacuations and stretching firefighting resources thin.

The Caldor fire, sparked Saturday in the foothills west of Lake Tahoe, quadrupled in size on Tuesday, destroying much of the tiny community of Grizzly Flats, including a school and homes. Two residents suffered serious injuries. Pollock Pines, a nearby town of 7,000 people, was in grave danger of being overtaken by flames. Sacramento Bee | A.P.
The Dixie fire, now nearly 1,000 square miles, edged to within a few miles of Susanville, a prison town of about 15,000 people in Lassen County. Residents packed up pictures and important documents. “We’re literally at the whim of the wind right now,” said a sheriff’s spokeswoman. N.Y. Times | Record Searchlight
A dramatic time-lapse video captured the Dixie fire's explosive advance near Janesville on Tuesday. @kieramalarkeywx
PG&E began cutting power to as many as 51,000 customers in 18 Northern California counties to prevent new blazes. S.F. Chronicle | Mercury News

Rep. Barbara Lee, left, seen in 2001, took a lonely stand against the invasion of Afghanistan.

Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images

On Sept. 14, 2001, Rep. Barbara Lee of Oakland voted against a measure to give President George W. Bush nearly unlimited power to wage war in Afghanistan. “We must be careful not to embark on an open-ended war with neither an exit strategy nor a focused target,” she explained. Her colleagues disagreed. The House voted 420 to 1; the Senate, 98 to 0. Many people called Lee a traitor. Twenty years, untold lives, and more than a trillion dollars later, some are now reassessing Lee's lonely stand. Washington Post


Sacramento County is home to more Afghan people than any other U.S. county. Besmellah Khuram, who assisted the U.S. government on the ground in Afghanistan, said he didn't sleep Saturday. He watched as the Taliban took Kabul, where his family lives. On Sunday, he cried. “There is no word to express how we feel about the loss of 18, 20 years’ achievement in one night,” he said. Sacramento Bee | N.Y. Times


A Mariposa family of three that had been reported missing was found dead Tuesday along with the family's dog on a hiking trail in a remote area of the Sierra National Forest, authorities said. The cause of death was unclear. A sheriff's deputy described the circumstances as highly unusual, prompting officers to treat the area as a hazmat scene. “It could be a carbon monoxide situation," she said. Fresno Bee | A.P.


The San Francisco garter snake, pictured above, has been called America's prettiest snake. Crowded out by development, they were considered so rare locally in the early 2000s that the San Francisco Zoo imported 10 of them from the Netherlands. Now a study has revealed a bonanza of roughly 1,300 garter snakes living on an otherwise vacant lot near San Francisco International Airport — the greatest concentration ever recorded. Atlas Obscura


Southern California


Imperial County, a remote agricultural region in the southeastern corner of California, has some of the state's highest rates of poverty, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. But on Covid-19 vaccinations, it's leading the state outside of the Bay Area. Among eligible residents, 86% are vaccinated. Experts attribute the success to a network of providers that have personally reached out to provide shots. CalMatters


Dodgers fans, seen on Aug. 3, have gotten used to going maskless.

Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

Los Angeles County announced that it would require face masks at outdoor events that attract more than 10,000 people, regardless of whether people are vaccinated. The expansive regulation, which goes beyond state guidance, will create a stark visual reminder of the persistence of the pandemic at venues like Dodger Stadium and SoFi Stadium — assuming fans comply. L.A. Times | A.P.


Janette Beckman

In 1983, the British photographer Janette Beckman spent the summer chronicling the lives of members of Hoyo Maravilla, a Mexican American gang in East Los Angeles. The images sat on a shelf for nearly three decades before being published in a volume in 2011, winning broad acclaim. For a Guardian feature called "My best shot," Beckman chose a picture from the series, above, showing three women who called themselves the Rivera Bad Girls. "Their makeup, their style, their eyebrows," she said, "everything about them looks amazing."

See more of Beckman's Hoyo Maravilla work. 👉 Vintage Everyday


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The California Sun is written by Mike McPhate, a former California correspondent for the New York Times.

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